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The Late Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart

The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1264, p. 585.

June 18, 1864


As a sequel to our Portraits of General Lee and General Longstreet, published in the last two numbers of this Journal, we have now engraved that of J. E. B. Stuart, who received his mortal wound in a cavalry skirmish with the detachment under General Sheridan at Ashland, in the neighbourhood of Richmond, on the 11th ult. This distinguished officer was born in Patrick County, Virginia, in 1835. He was educated at West Point Military Academy, where he graduated in 1854. He first entered the Mounted Rifles as Brevet Second Lieutenant, and was shortly afterwards made Second Lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry; eight months later he was promoted to be First Lieutenant; he distinguished himself in a fight with the Cheyennes, June 29, 1857, and received a severe wound; he became a Captain in 1860, and was permitted by President Lincoln to resign three years ago, when the civil war broke out. He then entered the Virginia State service as a Colonel of cavalry, and had the command of that arm at the first battle of Bull Run. In September following, he obtained much credit by his daring and audacity in an attack upon a Federal force at Lewnsville, Virginia, a few miles from the Federal capital. Meanwhile he had been made a Brigadier-General in the Confederate service, and he was soon promoted to be Major-General. His next performance of consequence was an excursion within the Federal lines on the Pamunky River, during M'Clellan's campaign of 1862, at the head of 1000 horse and two guns. He again created a sensation, on the 22nd of August following, at Catlett's Station, near the Rappahannock, where, in the midst of a thunderstorm, he came down upon General Pope's head-quarters, capturing his papers and private correspondence, and all the belongings of the staff. His greatest achievement, however, was during the month of October of that year, when, with 1800 cavalry and four cannon, he passed from the south of the Potomac, traversed Maryland, and, passing Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, at noon, entered Chambersburg after dark of the same day. The town surrendered without resistance. The troopers remained until next day, took all the spoil they desired, destroyed a great amount of property, and retreated across the Potomac on the left of General M'Clellan's army without serious loss. General Stuart had headed the cavalry of the Confederate army from the outset through all its battles. After the fight at Ashland, the wounded General was carried into Richmond, where he died at eight o'clock in the evening of the next day, in the house of his relative, Dr. Brewer. The Richmond Examiner thus describes his latest hours:--"He had occasional moments of delirium, when he reviewed in broken sentences all his glorious campaigns around M'Clellan's rear in the peninsula, beyond the Potomac, and upon the Rapidan; quoting from his orders, and issuing new ones to his couriers, with a last injunction to 'make haste.' At other times his mind was calm and clear. Mr. Jefferson Davis, the President, visited his bedside, and stayed a quarter of an hour. The President, taking his hand, said, 'General, how do you feel?' He replied, 'Easy, but willing to die, if God and my country think I have fulfilled my destiny and done my duty.' As his delirium returned, his mind again wandered to the battle-fields over which he had fought, then to his wife and children, and again to the front. A message had been sent for his wife, who was in the country, to make all haste. As evening wore on, the paroxysms of pain increased, and mortification set in rapidly. Though suffering the greatest agony at times, he was now calm and applied to the wound with his own hand the ice intended to relieve the pain. During the evening he asked Dr. Brewer whether it was possible for him to survive through the night. The doctor, knowing he did not desire to be buoyed by false hopes, told him frankly that death was rapidly approaching. The General nodded, and said, 'I am resigned, if it be God's will; but I would like to live to see my wife. But God's will be done.' Several times he roused up and asked if she had come. To the doctor, who sat holding his wrist and counting the weakening pulse, he remarked, 'Doctor, I suppose I am going fast now. It will soon be over; but God's will be done. I hope I have fulfilled my destiny to my country and my duty to my God.' At half-past seven o'clock it was evident to the physicians that death was setting its clammy seal upon the brave, open brow of the General, and they told him so, asking if he had any last message to give. The General, with a mind perfectly clear and possessed, then made disposition of his staff and personal effects. To Mrs. Lee, the wife of General Lee, he directed that his golden spurs be given, as a dying memento of his love and esteem for her husband. To his Staff officers he gave his horses. So particular was he in small things, even in the dying hour, that he said to one of his Staff, who was a heavy- bulit [sic] built man, 'You had better take the larger horse; he will carry you better.' To his young son he left his glorious sword. His worldly matters closed, the eternal interests of his soul engaged his mind. Turning to the Rev. Mr. Peterkin, a minister of the Episcopal Church, of which General Stuart was a member, he asked him to sing a hymn, and joined in it with all the voice his strength would permit. He then joined in prayer with the minister. To the doctor he again said, 'I am going fast now. I am resigned. God's will be done.' Thus died General J. E. B. Stuart."

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